If you could travel back in time to Seattle, Washington, during the 1980s, you would discover a unique type of music being played at Pike’s Peak Market and in bars and garages around the city. Young people found out that they loved to play their music and cared little about the blue-collar work ethic found in the Pacific Northwest.
Most of them cared so little that they brought their clothes to thrift stores to have more time to play their music. The heroin-infused movement might not have lasted long if it had not led to the death of Kurt Cobain, the lead singer for Nirvana, on April 5, 1994.
Instead of dying, the movement led to creating its unique look that has lasted for almost 30 years. In this post, I will teach you more about the grunge movement, with a particular emphasis on putting together great grunge aesthetic outfits.
Come along as we explore grunge fashion!
Finally, I will start unpacking some of the styles worn in the grunge movement, but there will be much more of that to come in future chapters, so you will want to be sure to keep reading.
What’s grunge aesthetic?
According to Merriam Webster, the term grungy means something dirty in condition. Meanwhile, they define aesthetics as something done to improve a person’s appearance. Therefore, one could define grunge aesthetics as using something dirty to improve one’s appearance.
While I will have more to say about the history of grunge shortly, the fashion movement started with people who did not buy into commercialism. Therefore, they shopped for their clothes at thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales, where they brought clothes and other items that other people considered trash.
Simultaneously, many started forming garage bands. Instead of embracing the music of the 1960s and 1970s, they created their sound, which was an alternative rock sound. While the movement first started in the Seattle area, it soon spread.
One idea united the two groups. They were tired of commercialism and wanted to embrace using people’s cast-offs. While that was true initially, it soon changed, as I will discuss in a bit.
While initially an underground movement, it soon came to light and is being embraced by many today as they wear chains, dark-colored clothing, and canvas tennis shoes.
Grunge makeup and hairstyles are as crucial to the look as the clothes. Black nail polish, pale foundation, and matte lipstick are trademarks of this movement. Additionally, grunge followers embrace unkempt hair, even if they spend many hours achieving the look.
While the movement started underground, it is not there anymore. Instead, they often pay high prices to achieve grunge aesthetics.
History & origins
The grunge movement began in Seattle with young college students who loved playing music and doing very little else. If it had not been for a small record label that envisioned sending the music on vinyl records into homes worldwide.
Times Magazine said those between 1961 and 1981 had only a hazy sense of their own identity and no style that they could call their own.
If you had visited Seattle in the late 1970s, you would have found a blue-collar community. The city held little promise of becoming a major music city, but small groups of college students gathered to create their music around town.
The movement probably would have quickly faded, except that Sub Pop latched onto an idea. They started a subscription service sending the sound of these small bands across the United States and beyond on 7-inch vinyl records.
During six months in 1991, four bands instantly rose to stardom with the release of “Temple of the Dog,” “Ten,” “Nevermind,” and “Badmotorfiner.” Along with the release of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on MTV, suddenly, young people everywhere noticed the grunge sound.
Young people watching MTV saw Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden dressed in olive-green cardigans, army boots, cargo shorts, and flannel shirts, and they quickly followed the style.
While the movement started with a lack of sexual identity, it paved the way for several girl bands, including Bikini Kill, L7, and Babes in Toyland.
Today, you can still see the influences of the early grunge movement in mainstream fashion while others choose to take it to the extreme. The first designer to create a grunge collection was Marc Jacobs, who created his grunge runway show in 1993 and was fired over it.
The collection featured beanies, layered flannels, cargo pants, and slip dresses. While Jacobs went on to earn a name for himself, people still wear the clothes over 40 years later.
What are the most typical grunge aesthetic clothing items?
The grunge movement tried to eliminate people’s focus on body shapes. Therefore, most wore oversized clothing. It was vital to be seen as a working-class individual, so the movement embraced sneakers, flannels, and cargo pants. Graphic t-shirts were used to deliver messages.
Since early participants in the grunge movement cared only about their music, they often purchased clothing at thrift stores. These items were often oversized, but quickly the movement accepted that everyone should be equal. At that point, oversized clothing symbolized that everyone was the same.
The gloomy weather of the Pacific Northwest was perfect for wearing flannels. These warm shirts were easy to find oversized, and they continue to be an essential clothing item for the grunge look.
The apparent suicide death of Kurt Cobain in 1991 changed the grunge music scene forever and made Cobain an instant fashion icon, with many adoring fans wanting to copy his style.
Cobain used to dress in layers as it was perfect for Seattle’s climate. Unfortunately, Cobain may have had a severe heroin addiction that kept him exceedingly thin. Therefore, he may have also dressed in layers to appear bulkier.
His clothing was often oversized because he had very little money. In fact, he even lived out of his car for a while. Since Cobain owned very few clothes, he often wore mismatched clothes that he found at Army/Navy surplus or thrift stores out of necessity. Therefore, his wardrobe usually consisted of tattered denim, cargo pants, and sneakers.
If you put together a typical grunge outfit today, you will still see sneakers, cargo pants or tattered denim, and a graphic t-shirt. The movement that started over 40 years ago has created its fashion style that has outlasted the music in most cases.
Despite grunge fashion using many of the same clothes, there are different types of grunge fashion. In the next chapter, I will list some of those types and help you begin to see the differences. Therefore, carry on reading to find out more.
Suppose you are starting to contemplate wearing grunge, but you are not ready to embrace the military-style of some grunge fashion. In that case, you will be excited to learn that there are many different looks, and some of them include pretty pastels and floral skirts.
As I covered in the last chapter, Marc Jacobs receives credit for creating the first grunge runway show. The show that was inspired by what young people in Seattle were wearing featured beanies, layered flannels, cargo pants, and slip dresses.
Instead of high-heeled stilettos and thigh-high boots, the models sported Dr. Marten combat boots and Converse sneakers.
There are some principles you will want to keep in mind. Wearing distressed jeans was a symbol of standing against over-consumerism. Designers often use dark colors in grunge clothing, but it is not gothic, so other dark colors are allowed.
You can find a lot of variety in grunge footwear, including platform shoes, military-style boots, and ankle-high leather boots.
Let’s dive deeper into the different grunge styles to get a better idea of what is available to you.
Soft grunge combines the hardness of grunge with the romantic look of coquette grunge. A popular soft grunge option is to wear a light-colored crop top under a dark jacket. Then, pair it with dark jeans and sneakers.
Women typically wear dark eyeshadow and painted fingernails. Varsity jackets are a popular outerwear option. Complete the look with gold jewelry and heart-shaped sunglasses.
This grunge style was especially popular between 2010 and 2014. Unlike the dark colors seen in many grunge fashion styles, you will see a lot of pinks and blues with soft grunge.
Punk grunge takes the hard edge off punk fashion so that most people find it more acceptable to wear in public. This style wears mostly black like punk, including dark lips, eye shadow, and jewelry. Most wear black clothing with distressed black jeans and black boots being a favorite combination.
It is prevalent to see numerous tattoos. A typical outfit might be black military-style boots, black jeans, a white graphic t-shirt, and a black choker necklace. Depending on where the individual is going, they might also wear a black studded bracelet or black leather gloves.
The hippie grunge style combines clothing from the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s with grunge clothing from the 1990s. Therefore, women are likely to wear long floral print dresses and cover them with an oversized flannel shirt. They may also choose to tie the shirt around their waist.
Alternatively, lace motifs are prevalent. People who love this style often wear natural gemstone chokers and rings. A typical outfit might be a Boho-style dress worn with a matching plaid flannel shirt left open down the front with Doc Marten boots and opal jewelry.
Indie grunge is perfect for summertime festivals. Wear your favorite distressed denim shorts and a denim jacket that does not match the shorts. Alternatively, find a leather jacket with some patches on it. Wear shorts with a band t-shirt.
A mini backpack is an ideal purse with this look, especially if it is denim or leather. Receive extra credit if the t-shirt is too big on you and the shorts have no bottom hem.
Men and women will want to consider oversized hoodies in cooler weather, especially those with band names and canvas sneakers. You can wear them with a pair of distressed jeans.
Harken back to the first days of grunge in the 1990s by creating a vintage grunge outfit. This look blends the vintage look with its retro vibe and the grunge look. Experiment with wearing fabrics, textures, and patterns together that would usually clash.
A fun outfit is to wear a distressed denim maxi skirt with a graphic tee and a faux fur coat. Colorful sunglasses would be the perfect option to go with this outfit. You could also wear a midi skirt and top it with a boxy blazer.
Guys can get into the act by wearing stone-washed jeans with a biker jacket and an oversized vintage t-shirt.
Grunge is all about being comfortable in many ways, so you can combine comfy grunge with many other styles. Think about Kurt Cobain and give your comfy grunge a vintage vibe by wearing an oversized t-shirt, loose jeans, and multiple layers.
Then, pull on your favorite canvas sneakers. If you find a vintage t-shirt too big for you, wear it with a simple leather belt. Slouch and rimless beanies are perfect hats to wear with this laid-back outfit. Do not leave the flannel shirt at home.
As the name suggests, pastel grunge changes the color palette from dark colors to pastels. Simultaneously, it keeps the grunge look by embracing oversized clothes, ripped and distressed jeans, and flannel shirts. In order to pull off this look, ensure you stick with a minimalistic vibe.
This style often borrows heavily from kawaii and gothic fashion. Kawaii is a major vibe here, so think cute outfits. Consider going with a Hello Kitty oversized t-shirt, a paisley miniskirt, and an oversized flannel shirt.
Less was more in the early grunge movement as people worked as little as possible so that they could play their music, and it was reflected in the clothes they wore. Sub Pop, who promoted many early grunge bands, released its t-shirt with the word “Loser” on it, and it was an instant hit, as were many other graphic t-shirts.
Along with faded jeans, these shirts were often brought in Seattle thrift stores, and the city had an abundance of working-class individuals. Workwear was a popular item, including footwear. You can recreate early 1980s fashion by wearing these same items.
If you take your fashion inspiration from Johnny Depp or Winona Ryder, you might love 90s grunge fashion. This style follows the original grunge look, so expect to see slip dresses and boxy blazers. Consider wearing oversized menswear as outerwear.
While you might see distressed jeans, you are more likely to see torn tights and leggings. A typical outfit might be a slip dress with a boxy blazer and combat boots. If you want to dress in this style, try searching for photos of the band Nirvana.
Individuals involved in fairycore or goblincore usually have a deep appreciation for nature, especially items that others might find a little disturbing, like snakes and frogs. They often buy their clothes at secondhand or thrift stores, and they often wear colors and patterns that clash with each other.
Grunge fairycore adds an element of masculinity to these outfits that are often not seen in fairycore. Therefore, a woman might wear an oversized flannel shirt covering a tee with a picture of a snake, a pair of ripped jeans, and sneakers.
I hope you are starting to find your niche within the grunge fashion movement. Just like the movement itself, there is room for many individual styles. In the next chapter, we will dive deeper into rules to follow to dress grunge. You will not want to miss these essential tips, so be sure to keep reading.
Concentrating on these ideas ensures that your outfit has a grunge vibe. As you start to master both styles, the combination of the two lets you create a look that reflects your unique personality.
Many people struggle to understand the difference between punk and grunge fashion as they both use mainly dark colors. The punk style uses a lot more leather everywhere. You are also likely to see clothes that fit a little closer to the body and often have skulls.
They also differ in the fact that punk often uses spikes on its jewelry and footwear. By contrast, grunge has a variety of dark colors, and combat boots and canvas sneakers are popular.
Another style that is commonly confused with grunge is gothic. People embracing gothic incorporate Victorian elements into their wardrobes. While people who choose a grunge style wear flats, those embracing a gothic style wear high heels often. They often incorporate pictures of vampires into their wardrobe.
Here are some grunge style tips:
Draw inspiration from grunge music stars
I have already covered Kurt Cobain’s influence on grunge fashion, but he is not the only one. You can see how grunge style changed over the years by looking at photos from Pearl Jam, who was the longest playing grunge band. Additionally, consider outfits worn by the members of Alice in Chains. Try copying their look when creating your grunge outfits.
If you are a female, draw inspiration from female grunge bands, like L7, Babes in Toyland, and 7 Year Bitch. You can easily find items to recreate the look of Donna Sparks, Kat Bjelland, and Selene Vigil.
Check out modern grunge examples
You can still find great grunge bands, and studying how they dress can help you create beautiful grunge outfits. Look at the clothes worn by Cella’Door, The Seafoams, and Swinging Riot, then recreate the look for yourself.
Notice the distressed jeans, baggy t-shirts, and unkempt hair. You will also see the makeup style that is not nearly as dark as that found in the punk rock movement.
You may also want to check out how grunge has appeared on fashion runways in the last five years. Notice that platform shoes covered with metal chains and studs are a prevalent footwear option. Fringe is appearing everywhere, including on military-style boots. While people often wear black, they place it next to black muted colors and floral motifs.
Grunge hair and makeup are essential
Most grunge hairstyles are edgy, but that is not always necessary as you can find many options with a softer vibe. One popular option is space buns, where the hair is divided into two sections and twisted or braided before being formed into a bun on both sides of the head. Undercuts and tousled curls are popular options for more formal events.
Grunge makeup has changed very little since the 1990s, and you must master this smoky-eye look. While fixing your eyes, be sure to put on a generous amount of mascara. You will also want to wear a dark shade of matte lipstick, but black is not a requirement.
Invest in some cool band or graphic tees
Depending on what grunge look you are trying to obtain, you will need a great tee. While you can still find band tees, particularly at thrift stores, it is often easier to find graphic tees with 1990s designs on them.
Consider black options as they are more appropriate for grunge, but the graphic design is a great way to give your outfit a pop of color. You can go with options that have a snarky saying on them. Alternatively, choose options with Hello Kitty, Mario, or a smiley face.
Add the right colors
Do not believe that you can only wear black and other dark colors and stick to grunge fashion. You can play with many color choices but keep them in small amounts. You can choose almost any shade found in nature, so add some floral colors, some greens, or some blues to your wardrobe.
Just make sure that you select shades that look dirty instead of glossy shades. There is also no need to worry about if patterns and colors go together because grunge is all about mismatching.
Embrace heavy layering
Kurt Cobain often wore two pairs of jeans at the same time. While we are not recommending you take it that far, do not be afraid to wear colored tights under your distressed jeans. You will also want to layer your tops.
For instance, if you are using a slip dress to create a vintage grunge look, wear a boxy blazer over it. You can wear flannel shirts over many tops, like graphic and band t-shirts and crop tops. If that is not enough coverage for the weather, you can add men’s outerwear, like a leather or denim jacket, over the flannel.
Wear the right accessories
While there is some variation depending on the exact grunge style you are trying to create; accessories help complete the grunge look. For example, if you are going for a punk grunge look, you will want to add chains to your jeans or cargo pants.
Alternatively, if you are going for a grunge fairycon look, stick with natural stone jewelry or crystals. If you are wearing an oversized t-shirt, consider wearing it with a black leather belt. In almost all cases, you will want to wear a slouchy or casual beanie when temperatures drop.
Select the Correct Footwear
Doc Martens are usually the best choice in footwear if you are trying to create an authentic 1980s and 1990s vibe. Other choices to consider are canvas sneakers and platform shoes.
Alternatively, if you are going for a more modern look, then think about black boots with fringe or metal chains or spikes. Select options that are about the same height as combat boots. Avoid shoes with high heels because grunge fashion is about being comfortable. You can also choose to wear flat leather sandals.
Hide the body silhouette
While many fashion styles emphasize showing off your best features, that is not true with grunge. Instead, consider how you can hide your body’s silhouette. For example, Kurt Cobain wore two pairs of jeans so that his legs looked bigger.
You may also want to hide your silhouette by wearing oversized clothing or a long flannel shirt. You may also want to wear baggy t-shirts. Skip your tight-fitting jeans and choose your baggy ones instead. If you’re going to show off your figure a little, consider adding a loose leather belt.
While you will see a few skirts, grunge style usually embraces menswear. This is especially true in outerwear, where denim and leather jackets that end at the waist are often worn.
It also extends to blue jeans, where women often opt for baggy men’s jeans. Another example is flannel shirts. Usually, they are large and plaid. Most are very basic, giving a lumberjack appearance.
While there are a few exceptions, like pastel grunge, very little jewelry is generally worn. When it is, it usually is made of natural materials and gemstones
Now that you understand more about the grunge aesthetic, I will cover grunge outfits for men in the next chapter. You will not want to miss learning about these ideas, so be sure to keep reading. Ladies, you will also want to read this section so that you can give fashion advice to your male friends.
Ladies, you will not want to skip ahead because most of these ideas you can also use to create your outfits. Plus, I will give you even more outfit ideas in the next chapter. Also, you can share these ideas with your guy friends.
If you are like many women, you help your male counterparts pick out their wardrobe anyway, so you will want to be armed with this information. Going on a date or to a festival with a sharp-looking guy is usually a lot of fun. So you will want to help them pick out the right clothes to wear.
Band t-shirt+ ripped jeans
Especially at the beginning of the grunge movement, every guy wore a band t-shirt. If you cannot find one, go for a faded graphic t-shirt. Receive bonus points for those that look the most faded and dingy. If the weather is cool, top the t-shirt with a plaid flannel button-down shirt, but leave it open and wear it like a coat.
Then, pair the shirt with a pair of ripped jeans. Again, receive extra credit if they look faded. Then, wear your black combat boots. Shampoo your hair but forget to comb it.
Oversized plaid shirt + cargo pants
While you can wear distressed cargo pants if you want, if you head somewhere that is not appropriate, then wear black cargo pants. Make sure that they fit you loosely. Choose to wear them with a simple black leather belt if you need one. Then, put on your high-profile canvas sneakers, like Chuck Taylors ones work great.
Wear an oversized plaid button-down shirt on top, and make sure that it is extra baggy on you. On a cold winter day, a leather jacket that ends at the waist and a casual-style beanie are outstanding choices.
T-shirts + distressed jeans
Start your outfit with a long-sleeved white t-shirt. An off-white thermal one is a great choice. Then, wear a black graphic t-shirt. One that looks faded and ragged is best. Finally, top them with a long-sleeved cardigan sweater. Consider sticking with muted colors that you would find in nature.
For the bottom, wear a pair of distressed jeans. Blue or black work well, depending on your other choices. Finally, stick on your wool socks and combat boots. A great pair of men’s combat boots often have studs or chains.
Jorts + muscle shirt
Your cutoff jean shorts, called jorts, are a perfect bottom to wear when creating a grunge look. Top them with a muscle shirt. The jorts should come down at least to your mid-thigh.
Then, add a muscle shirt. You can make your own by cutting the arms off a faded graphic t-shirt. If you are buying a muscle shirt, then stick to one in muted colors, and avoid any options that look glossy or are boldly colored.
You can wear this outfit with almost any type of shoe. Keep the grunge going by choosing a pair of ankle-high canvas sneakers or your combat boots. Alternatively, your faded boat shoes or leather sandals will also work.
Baggy sweatshirt + cargo pants
The grunge style is about wearing baggy clothes. Wearing an oversized sweatshirt is a great place to start. Choose one that has a graphic design on the front. Receive bonus points if you can score one with Taz, Homer Simpson, or Tommy Pickles on the front.
Then, wear it with your cargo pants. A distressed pair is ideal, and they can be black or khaki if they look faded. Wear your combat boots on your feet and a slouchy beanie on your head. Running a comb roughly through your hair is enough because you do not want it to look too stylized.
Patch jacket + distressed jeans
You can find jackets with patches or create a patch jacket. For the grunge look, faded denim ones are usually best. Then, wear a crew neck t-shirt underneath. Of course, you will also want to wear your distressed jeans, and you may want to add a chain or two.
Choose baggy ones and wear them with a black or brown leather belt. You can wear this look with high-top canvas sneakers or your combat boots. Wash your hair but let it dry naturally.
Leather jacket + faded jeans
A leather jacket worn over a V-neck black shirt is a super look. While a plain one is best, you can also opt for one with a few patches on it. Wear it with your faded jeans that are baggy enough to be ultra-comfortable. Blue or black are ideal choices.
If you need a belt, choose a canvas one with a skull or other decorative belt buckle, but make sure that the belt buckle is small. This is a great look to wear with your combat boots. Think about adding some silver chains to your pants.
T-shirt + rolled-up jeans
Summer is the perfect season to wear a white t-shirt and rolled-up jeans. Get the grunge groove going by choosing a shirt that looks dingy. Either a V-neck or a crewneck will be perfect. You could even go with a graphic tee. Then, choose your favorite blue or baggy black jeans.
Your lace-up work-style boots are fantastic to wear with your rolled-up jeans. Wrap some leather bracelets around your waist. They will look even better if they have some studs on them. Let your hair hang down in an unkempt fashion.
Striped t-shirt + faded jeans
An oversized striped t-shirt makes an excellent start for a grunge outfit. Think about one that has dingy white stripes combined with a pastel color. Then, top the t-shirt with an oversized flannel shirt.
It is acceptable if it is plaid, even though you would typically not wear stripes and plaids together. Then, put on your favorite pair of blue jeans. Distressed and faded ones are ideal.
If you need a belt, make it simple, like a brown or black leather belt, without a design. Add a slouchy beanie to complete the look.
Hoodie + black jeans
The grunge style is all about being comfortable, and a great way to do that is by wearing an oversized hoodie. Consider one that has a word or band name on the front in bold lettering. The perfect choice would be one in a brown or gray color.
You will want to avoid any that look too bold or clean, like bright pink or pristine white options. Pair it with your baggy black jeans. Ideally, they are faded or ripped. Then, put your high-top canvas sneakers on your feet.
Long-sleeve shirt + black jeans
Start this outfit with a long-sleeved striped thermal shirt. Then, top it with a vintage band shirt. Try to find one from Pearl Jam, Nirvana, or Alice in Chains. It is ideal if it is faded or has some minor rips.
Wear this combination with your ripped black jeans. The more distressed they look, the better they represent the grunge movement. You may even want to wear dingy white thermal longjohns under them on a cold day.
Complete the look by wearing your black high-profile canvas tennis shoes. Replace the shoestrings with a pair that matches the color of your shirt.
Long-sleeve t-shirt + snapback
Consider wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt that looks dingy or faded. Get extra credit if the shirt has a 1990s cartoon character or band. Match the shirt to the color of a snapback. Throw it on your head without combing your hair, like you were having a bad hair day.
Ideally, it would have a grunge band’s name on it. Then, wear it with your distressed jeans. You can choose blue or black, and the more distressed they look, the better. If you need a coat, consider a denim one with patches or a leather motorcycle jacket.
T-shirt + checked loafers
Put on a dingy white tee-shirt that is way too long for you. Then, top it with another t-shirt with a band name on it. Ensure that the white t-shirt is several inches longer than the top shirt you are wearing.
This is a great choice to wear with your cargo pants, and think about wearing some chains hanging from the belt loops on the pants to some of your pockets.
Finally, wear this outfit with a pair of checked loafers. Black and white ones are ideal, but as long as they look dingy, any option will be a great choice.
Tank top + distressed jeans
While you will want to stay away from brightly colored ones, tank tops are a great choice when you want to create a grunge look. It is even better if they have a spot or two on them or if the front is a little shorter than the back. Then, wear it with your distressed jeans.
While you can buy distressed jeans, it is often more fun to create your own. This is a great option to wear with tattoos, even if you opt for high-quality fake ones. Wrap some leather bracelets around your wrist and wear a watch with a leather band on the other arm.
Sheepskin coat + high-profile sneakers
A canvas jacket with a sheepskin lining is perfect for keeping you warm on a cold winter day, and it is an ideal choice for a grunge outfit. Choose one that is a natural color, like a deep gray or a light brown.
A great option is one cut in a chore-coat style. Keep the canvas theme going by wearing your high-profile canvas sneakers. Chuck Taylors are a perfect choice. Under the coat, you can wear a baggy t-shirt and your distressed jeans.
Leather jacket + leather boots
It is easy to put together a soft grunge look with a black leather jacket and black leather boots. Keep the look soft by wearing them with a pair of baggy black jeans and an oversized black turtleneck.
This is a fabulous monochromatic outfit that you will love wearing in many places. Consider wearing it with a brimmed beanie to give it a little grungier look.
A black watch and a dog-tag necklace look great with this outfit. Otherwise, you can choose to provide it with a bit of hippie grunge vibe by wearing a natural stone necklace and ring.
Flannel shirt + denim jacket
It is easy to put together a layered grunge look. Start with a short-sleeve t-shirt. Make sure to choose one that is a little too long for you. Then, top it with a flannel shirt. Button up the shirt over the t-shirt while ensuring that the t-shirt peeks out from under the flannel shirt in a place or two.
Add a denim jacket on top of the flannel shirt. One lined in sheepskin is a great choice. On the bottom, wear your favorite baggy jeans. Depending on where you are going, you can choose different levels of distress. Finally, wear your high-profile canvas shoes.
Military-style coat + gray sweatsuit
A perfect 1980s grunge outfit is easy to create when starting with a plain gray sweatsuit. Choose one where the top and bottom are the same color. It is better if it is a little too big on you. While it is definitely not a requirement, you can wear a band or graphic t-shirt on top of the sweatshirt.
Then, wear a military-style coat. Opt for one that comes about mid-calf on you. One lined in sheepskin is ideal. Finally, throw a rimless beanie or an ushanka hat on your head.
T-shirt + leather pants
Create a black monochromatic grunge outfit with a black t-shirt and black leather pants. With the grunge look, go for options that are baggy for you. This is an ideal option for wearing with a black beanie.
Think about a Bluetooth one so that you can listen to your favorite grunge tunes. Black leather boots are an excellent option for your feet.
If you choose dressier boots, make sure they do not look too glossy. You can add some visual interest to this outfit if you want by adding a leather bracelet and a watch with a leather strap.
Knit top + combat boots
A long-sleeved knit top is the perfect base layer for a grunge outfit. Consider striped or plaid options that are baggy and a little oversized. Then, top it with a button-down shirt in a coordinating color. It is excellent if the knit top sticks out slightly at the bottom.
Try to stick to darker muted colors, but black is not a necessity. Then, wear these tops with your distressed jeans and your military-style boots. Carry a denim daypack. You can wear this look with a denim jacket if the weather requires a coat.
I have now shared 20 great ways that men can dress in the grunge style. In the next chapter, ladies will get equal time as I will share 20 ways that ladies can dress in this style. Therefore, you will want to keep reading. Men, you will want to read the next chapter too so that you can help your lady friends pick out the perfect grunge outfit.
Like many fashion movements, ladies usually employ more pieces when putting together an outfit. Therefore, it is easier to mix-and-match options from different outfits to create a look that you will adore. Let’s get started looking at 20 grunge outfits for women.
Slip dress + combat boots
While you may think of a dress as being too formal for grunge aesthetics, a slip dress is a great choice and very easy to wear. Choose a black one or another option in a muted color. Put it on with your combat boots for a fun-to-wear outfit.
If the weather is a little cool, then put a long flannel shirt over it. This is an excellent look for putting your hair up in twisted knots on the side of your head. If you have not gotten into ink therapy, add a temporary tattoo to one arm.
Skirt + knit top
Your little black denim skirt and a dark-colored knit top make the perfect start to a grunge outfit. Depending on the weather, you can choose a short-sleeve or a long-sleeve top. One with a modest boat neck is excellent. Wear them with a pair of knee-high socks and your combat boots.
You can wear a casual-style beanie on your head. Consider a leather one ending at your waist if you need a coat. Quickly fix your hair into side ponytails, but leave some hair hanging loose. Complete the look by attaching some silver chains to the skirt.
Graphic t-shirt + lace-up boots
A 1990s graphic t-shirt with a cute saying is an excellent start to a grunge outfit. Choose one that is a little baggy on you. Then, wear it with a pair of distressed black jeans. Baggy ones are the best option, and they are usually the most comfortable.
You want the ones that have holes in the knees and look faded. Your black lace-up boots are an outstanding footwear option for this outfit. Put on a faded denim jacket if it is cold. Ideally, it ends at your waist and has a patch or two on its front. Add a splash of color by tying a scarf around your neck.
Band shirt + denim shorts
Breathe new life into a grunge band shirt by wearing it with your favorite denim shorts. Faded ones that no longer have a bottom hem are the best choice. While you can wear short ones if you wish, mid-thigh and knee-length options work great, and it does not matter if they are black or blue.
Cover the short-sleeve band shirt with a long-sleeve denim shirt. One from the men’s department is a great option. Wear your ankle-high combat boots with this outfit. Fix your hair in a half-up ponytail. You can wear a dog-tag necklace and a leather bracelet if you want.
Flannelette shirt + distressed shorts
If the weather is hot, then wear your favorite vintage t-shirt with a flannelette shirt over it. You can go hardcore grunge by choosing a band shirt or a little softer with a graphic t-shirt in a lighter color.
Then, top with the flannelette shirt, which you should leave open down the front. One with a plaid design is a perfect choice. Avoid any that look too pristine or are too brightly colored. On the bottom, wear your favorite pair of distressed shorts. They should be a little baggy on you. If you need a belt, then a thin black option is ideal.
Plaid shirt + distressed jeans
Start this outfit with a pinstripe crewneck shirt. It can be from the menswear department if that makes it easier to find. Then, top it with a long-sleeve cotton plaid shirt. You can wear the same colors if you want, but it is not a necessity.
Next, put on your distressed jeans. You can buy ones with rips in them or create your own. Complete the look by wearing your favorite ankle-high canvas sneakers. If the weather is cooler, then wear a casual-style beanie on your head. A black studded necklace is a perfect accessory.
Sleeveless undershirt + cargo shorts
Your favorite sleeveless undershirt, like a dingy camisole, works great as the base layer for a grunge outfit. Top it with a ¾-sleeve plaid flannel shirt or take the sleeves on a flannel shirt and roll them up a little. You will want to wear the shirt unbuttoned.
Then, put on your cargo shorts. Get extra credit if they are distressed and if the bottom hem is coming out of them. This is an ideal outfit for wearing with your lace-up combat boots, but you can wear your high-profile canvas sneakers if you wish.
Floppy cardigan + floral shorts
You can easily create a soft grunge outfit with a floppy cardigan. Choose an unstructured one in a muted color that looks a little dingy. Then, wear it over a black t-shirt. Receive bonus points if it has the name of a grunge band on its front.
Next, put on your floral shorts. They should have a dark-colored background, and the flowers should not be too bright. This is a great outfit to pair with your canvas high-top sneakers. Black or dark-colored ones are an ideal choice. You can carry a black shoulder bag or a denim daypack if you need a purse.
Shell top + denim shorts
A black shell top is an ultra-comfortable choice, and it will pair very nicely with your distressed denim shorts. Avoid tops that hug your body too tightly. Your shorts should come at least to your mid-thigh. Options with a drawstring waist are a great choice.
Wear your Doc Martens on your feet. Alternatively, select combat boots with metal chains or studs on them. Avoid the need to fix your hair by wearing a black ballcap. A gold-banded necklace is an ideal choice if it looks bulky. You may also want to wear a watch with a leather strap.
Sundress + leather shoes
A sundress is a perfect start to a grunge outfit, especially when worn under a denim jacket. Pick one in darker colors when choosing the sundress, but some tiny white flowers are perfectly acceptable. If you can find one, a gingham print is ideal.
Try selecting a denim jacket that is baggy and ends about your waist. A dark one that is a little faded is the best choice. Then, wear your white bobby socks and your black penny loafers. It is preferred if your loafers are older and show the miles they have traveled. You can put some of your hair up or leave it all down.
Jumper + Fishnets
If you love the grunge fairycon look, start by wearing a dingy white button-up. Then, top it with a black jumper. One that ends about mid-thigh is an excellent choice when worn with your fishnet stockings.
A pair of black fingerless gloves are perfect for your hands, and they will help keep them warmer if the weather is cool. Wear your black-and-white platform shoes on your feet.
A large natural gemstone pendant is a fabulous necklace to wear. Wear some of your hair straight down in the front while letting the rest flow down your back. Curtain bangs are an ideal option.
Long dress + flannel shirt
A long Boho-style dress is a great base layer for a hippie grunge outfit. Choose one with a floral or lace motif and stays in the darker color range, like browns or dark blues. Tie a flannel shirt around your waist to give it a grungier look.
You can choose to wear this look with your favorite low-profile sneakers, and the ones with a hand-painted design are an excellent choice. Accessorize the outfit with your favorite long necklaces. Natural stone options look particularly stunning. Opt to wear your hair up in a messy bun or braid it into a side ponytail.
Skater skirt + combat boots
If you are a fan of the soft grunge look, you have probably already fallen in love with a plaid skater skirt or two. Select one and wear it with a thin black belt and a dark t-shirt that is a little baggy. Then, top the shirt with a denim jacket.
A faded one with a few patches is ideal. If the weather is cool, wear a knit top under a denim jacket. This is a perfect option to wear with a pair of vintage sunglasses and combat boots. You can remove the shoelaces in the boots and replace them with a pair that matches your skirt.
Plaid pants + motorcycle jacket
You can quickly put together a 1990s grunge outfit with a pair of plaid polyester pants. Choose a pair that is a little baggy on you and wear them with a thin black belt. Dark colors are the best option.
Select a pair that are a little short on you. Then, put on a white knit top. One with a modest scoop neck is a great choice. You do not want to choose one that is too pristine, so select one that is a little faded.
Finally, wear a leather motorcycle jacket over the top. If you do not own one, you can substitute a vintage denim jacket. Pair this outfit with your favorite combat boots. Ones with a platform sole are an excellent option.
T-shirt + distressed jeans
A black-and-white t-shirt that has an Indian vibe to it is perfect for creating an Indie grunge outfit. It should be a little baggy on you. Put on your fishnet stockings. You can choose between black or white ones. Cover them up with your most distressed jeans.
You can choose any color you want, but they should have holes in them that are large enough to see the fishnet stockings easily. Give your jeans a roll or two at the bottom so that the socks show there too. Then, wear this look with a pair of low-profile black sneakers.
Crop top + striped shorts
A pair of denim striped shorts and a black crop top make a perfect grunge outfit. The shorts should have vertical stripes, and bright colors are great. Wear the shorts with a medium-wide black belt. Then, put on a black crop top.
There should be some skin showing between the belt and your crop top. Finally, wear a denim shirt over the crop top. Roll up the sleeves on the shirt a couple of times. You can put on your high-profile sneakers or combat boots with this look.
Racing-back shirt + distressed jeans
Pull your black racing-back shirt out of your closet and wear it with your distressed jeans. Cover the racing-back shirt with a flannel one, or tie the flannel shirt around your waist. This is a great outfit to wear in the fall because you can wear the flannel shirt if the weather is cool or keep it tied around your waist if it is warm.
A plaid one with a bit of black is a great choice. Then, put on your Doc Martens. This is a great option to wear with a long necklace that comes almost to your belly button. You may also want to wear a shorter crystal or natural gemstone necklace and layer them.
Varsity t-shirt + knitted cardigan
An off-white knitted cardigan worn over an old-school varsity t-shirt is an ideal option for the spring and fall. This is a fabulous outfit to wear with work boots with a bit of metal on them. It can be studs, buckles, or chains. Pair the varsity t-shirt with a plaid skirt.
Try sticking with options in a darker color, but it does not necessarily have to be black. Deep red, navy blue, or a muted brown option would also work perfectly. Part your hair down the middle and create pigtails on both sides of your head. You can loosely braid them if you want.
Tribal-inspired crop top + black shorts
A knit tribal-inspired crop top with a pair of distressed black shorts is a perfect grunge outfit. Opt for a top that has a little black in it. You can choose to buy distressed black shorts or make your own from black jeans.
They should be baggy on you, so you can wear them with a black belt to keep them up. One with a few metal studs and a metal buckle is a great choice. Then, slide into your favorite pair of high-profile canvas sneakers.
Grab your round sunglasses and either wear them or hook them from a jean shorts pocket. You can make this outfit look even grungier by wearing it with a beanie. Ideally, one with a catchphrase or a 1990s grunge band name on the front.
White t-shirt + white skater skirt
A baggy white t-shirt with a white skater skirt may seem like an unusual option for a grunge outfit, but it is all in the way that you style it. Start by wearing a black close-fitting long-sleeve shirt under the white t-shirt. Then, put on your black fishnet stockings.
Pull-on a pair of black knee-high socks over them and put on your black work-style platform shoes. Tie the whole look together with a black belt. If you need a purse, choose a pack that will hang from the belt that is big enough to hold necessities.
I have enjoyed sharing these grunge outfit ideas for women with you. In the next part, I will have a few concluding comments. Please keep reading as you will not want to miss them. I have also included a special request that I would love to have you do. Plus, you get the opportunity to ask questions about grunge aesthetics.
I have enjoyed teaching you how to put together grunge aesthetic outfits, and you are now armed with the information and ideas needed to create your terrific grunge wardrobe. If you have any questions, be sure to ask them.
If you know someone else who would love to learn about the grunge look, please share this post with them. They will find the information extremely helpful.
You will also want to explore our other posts. They are the perfect leisure-time reading while listening to your favorite grunge tunes.
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